Late last week, hurricane Katia split the gap between the U.S. East Coast and Bermuda, sparing them high winds and rain, merely pushing ashore high surf. But over the weekend, Katia transitioned from a hurricane into a large, mid-latitude cyclone as it charged across the northern Atlantic. Yesterday and today, it is battering the northern portion of the United Kingdom with damaging winds and flooding rain.
The strongest winds are expected in portions of northern Ireland, southern Scotland, and northern England this afternoon and evening. Damaging wind gusts of up to 75-80 mph are forecast.
The United Kingdom Met Office has already reported gusts that high. It tweeted the following peak gusts recorded: Wales 82 mph, northern Ireland 74 mph, England 66 mph, and Scotland 60 mph. Glasgow and Edinburgh have already observed gusts in the mid-40s but may experience gusts as high as 70 mph later today according to STV.
Forecasters and public officials are warning the high winds may bring down trees and damage structures. And flooding rain is also a possibility, with two to four inches predicted in western Scotland, according to the BBC.
In light of the forecast, Scotland transport minister Keith Brown told STV:
Some strong winds and heavy rain are forecast for Monday and Tuesday, and forecasts suggest travel conditions are likely to be difficult. Robust contingency arrangements are in place so people should not panic but we should be prepared. For example, there is likely to be some disruption to roads, rail and ferry services, so travellers are advised to allow more time for journeys.
The high winds and heavy rain are expected to peak on Monday afternoon and evening, so commuters are advised that if they can leave work earlier that would be a very sensible step to help avoid rush-hour delays. We are all working hard to keep Scotland moving and I urge everyone to allow extra time for travel, avoid unnecessary risks and keep checking websites and local radio for real-time information
See this video overview from the UK Met Office:
UK Met Office overview of the storm and its effects
How common are hurricanes that turn into mid-latitude storms in the UK and northern Europe?
It’s actually fairly common for Atlantic hurricanes to transition to large mid-to-northern latitude storms that swipe the United Kingdom and northern Europe.
Wunderground meteorologist Jeff Masters posted a nice discussion about this and noted the following:
Hurricanes that transition to powerful extratropical storms hit the British Isles several times per decade, on average.
As reported by UK Met Office forecaster John Hammond in a post on the BBC 23 degrees blog, Britain has been affected at least eight times in the past twenty years by extratropical storms that were once tropical storms or hurricanes.
Katia may not be the last hurricane-turned-extratropical-cyclone to smack northern Europe this year. There is some concern that tropical storm Maria, currently 175 miles north-northwest of San Juan, Puerto Rico, may impact the region in about a week. That storm is predicted to take a sharp north turn soon and will not strike the U.S. coast.